11 amazing ways to experience Africa from the air

Story highlights

Vintage Huey helicopter rides over Victoria Falls began in 2013

Private flying safaris are offered in Namibia and Botswana

Hot air balloon safaris in Zambia offer rides "close enough to look straight into the face of a lion"

CNN  — 

Africa from the air is a breathtaking sight – vast herds, sprawling wetlands, snow-capped peaks and rising cities.

Thanks to creative safari outfitters, aerial views of the continent are a lot more accessible than they once were.

The 11 options below showcase the best aerial tours of Africa.

1. Huey helicopter flights at Victoria Falls (Zambia)

Based in Livingstone on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls (the falls form a border between Zambia and Zimbabwe), United Air Charters introduced 20-minute flights in a “Huey” helicopter – the widely used military helicopter – in 2013 as a radical way to experience Africa’s largest waterfall.

With fully open side doors, the 13-passenger Huey zigzags through the 125-meter-high (410 foot) rock walls of Batoka Gorge, skimming close to rapids that make this stretch of the Zambezi one of the continent’s best for whitewater rafting.

Upon reaching the violent clash of water and rock called Oblivion, the chopper rapidly rises up and over Mosi-oa-Tunya (“The Smoke that Thunders”) at the falls.

United Air Charters Huey tours over the falls with an open door are $175 per person for 15 minutes and $330 per person for 20 minutes

Private flying safaris take visitors over the Kalahari Desert and Okavango Delta.